A new year is finally here! As a freight broker, you should always have your eyes on different ways to keep growing. There’s a phrase in the industry “If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking” and that phrase is fairly accurate. It is inevitable that you will likely lose a customer at some point in the future, so you need to always be adding to your sales pipeline and growing your business to stay ahead. We’ve compiled a quick list of 5 ways to grow your book of business this year. It’s not always just adding new customers; there’s a lot of ways that you can groom your freight brokerage or agency!
Grow Your Current Customers
Working on your existing customer base is a great way to increase business. You have a history with these shippers already and hopefully you’ve established trust and true value to the relationship. Adding additional lanes and picking up more volume from your shippers is a great way to increase your business overall. Stay on top of their pipeline of business to know what shipments you can expect to work on this year. If they have an upcoming project or increased shipping volumes, you want to tap into that. It’s a great idea to have periodic strategic calls with your customers to forecast the future and ensure that your relationship is part of their growth as a company.
Gaining New Customers
This might sound obvious, but you should always be prospecting new business. You should dedicate a certain amount of time in your day or week to prospecting and following up with prospects. Once you have a solid customer base, it can be easy to slow down the prospecting. That is a dangerous thing, and you should always ensure you’re adding to your pipeline. Using customer referrals, BOL prospecting, Google Alerts, etc. are great ways to keep adding new prospects in your pipeline. Don’t forget to follow up either! Most sales reps give up on follow ups after just a few attempts. Most business isn’t closed until over 10 attempts to contact a new customer. Be the broker that is consistent and follows up. You will stay at the top of your prospects mind. Timing is everything, and you want to make sure you are consistent so when the time is right, you are there.
Groom Your Carrier Network
Having a strong carrier network is just as important to a freight broker as having good customers. Your carriers are the key to ensuring your customers shipments are moved on time and without hassle. Once you have some good reliable carriers, you should try to increase their utilization as much as possible. That means using them as much as possible rather than simply finding a new carrier on the load boards for each shipment. Increased use of a carrier builds trust and reliability between you and them. Get to know their fleet capabilities and the backhaul lanes that they often run. Understanding their backhauls can help you in prospecting new customers since you truly have capacity with your reliable carriers.
Invest in Tools and Technology
Having the right tools to do the job is a must in this industry. Whether its rating tools, a TMS, load posting, or a CRM, you need to be organized and efficient. I’m a big fan of online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems such as HubSpot. Being able to track your conversations with prospects and set follow up reminders makes your job so much easier. Load posting and rating tools are a must have as well when it comes to finding capacity in the spot market and understanding the current rates. Our partners at DAT have great products when it comes to posting and analytics. If you’re not using DAT, you need to be. You can even get a free month of DAT Power or DAT Express using these links.
DAT Power: http://www.dat.com/power/1959316
DAT Express: http://www.dat.com/express/1959316
Your TMS is also a crucial tool to success. If you aren’t using one, you need to be. There are some free options out there, but you get what you pay for so make sure you do your homework. TMS platforms help keep your business organized and make your dispatching process simple. Maybe it’s time for a new TMS or an upgrade with your existing provider. Always stay up to date on the latest tech, and make sure you have the appropriate level for your brokerage or agency.
Hire Help When You Are Ready
As you grow, you will hit a point where you don’t have the time and bandwidth to add any more business. Hiring is a great way to extend your operational capacity. I recommend hiring operations or administrative help first. This allows you to maintain your focus on selling and managing your accounts. A strong operations person can make the carrier booking and dispatch process smooth so you can keep your customers satisfied. If you run your own brokerage, the back office task of billing is a huge task that can slow freight brokers down and chew up their time. Hiring help in this area is a smart move when you are ready to as well. The cost of your hires should be made up for by the additional business that you can bring on. If your new hire doesn’t result in you making enough to pay them and then some, you probably aren’t ready to hire yet. If you don’t know if you are ready to hire yet, or you are worried about the cost, check out our friends over at Lean Staffing. They offer contract-based staffing solutions for brokerages with a near-shore model that saves you money, time, and headaches.
Lean Staffing: https://leanstaffing.com/